Bryzgalov Says Team Is Better Without Him In Winter Classic

1 Jan

CITIZENS BANK PARK — Even when he’s not playing, Ilya Bryzgalov steals the spotlight. In front of all to see, the 31-year-old netminder announced to a locker room full of media members that when everyone is watching the Winter Classic on Monday, so will he. From the bench.

“I have great news and even better news,” said Bryzgalov. “OK, great news: I’m not playing tomorrow night. Good news: we have a chance to win the game tomorrow.”

Perhaps it is his famous sense of humor. Maybe it was the HBO cameras, but many people didn’t believe him.

“No, I’m not playing, guys. I’m telling you, definitely,” said Bryzgalov. “Yeah it was written down. Actually my goalie coach, Jeff Reese, he tell me I’m not playing.”

Well, surely he has to be disappointed. The Flyers signed him to a nine-year, $51 million deal in the offseason. He was supposed to be the guy to lean on.

“Yes. I’m a human,” said Bryzgalov. “I’m not made from steel, but it is what it is and I had a good practice again like yesterday and two days ago. We just keep moving forward and lots of games in front of us. Lots of hockey. I heard it was still the main goal in Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup and prepare for this.”

So what will he do on Monday?

“Make sure I not forget in the morning my thermos, put some nice tea [in it] and enjoy the bench.”

That means that Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod. He has won two in a row and four of five. Bobrovsky has a 2.52 goals-against average and .914 save percentage as opposed to Bryzgalov’s 3.01 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. He was reluctant to talk about the Winter Classic, noting that no official announcement had been made by Peter Laviolette.

For the second-year player, it was a veteran move. Bryzgalov said he hadn’t spoken to Laviolette, but was willing to disclose he wasn’t playing.

“No, I didn’t see the reason why,” said Bryzgalov. “He’s the head coach. He makes these decisions and he’s responsible for the results. I can understand. He probably wants to put the best lineup he’s got for [the game].”

Laviolette wasn’t willing to let Bryzgalov’s diatribe be the official stance of the team.

“I’ve been consistent with how I’ve made the announcement of goaltenders,” said Laviolette. “I have not spoken to either goaltender yet and I have not announced anything yet. We plan on making an announcement later on today as to who the starter will be.”

So why would Bryzgalov say that he wasn’t playing?

“I don’t know,” said Laviolette. “I haven’t spoken to either one of the goaltenders. I plan on speaking to them after I get done with you guys and we plan on making an announcement before the game…sticking with company policy that we’ve had since I’ve been here.

“New year, same policy.”

Yeah, we’re early in 2012, so early the fireworks haven’t stopped yet.

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